Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Weekly Rec: Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

When I first heard about Andrew Shaffer's new mystery Hope Never Dies, I thought it was a cute idea and would be, at best, a fun novelty item. I'd have bought it regardless - look at that cover! But Quirk Books was kind enough to send me an early copy, and I am delighted to report that THIS BOOK IS ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD.

Let's back up. Hope Never Dies is exactly what it says it is: a murder mystery in which the detectives are post-presidency Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Biden's at loose ends once they're out of office, back in Delaware and watching from afar as his supposed BFF Obama hangs out with younger and cooler celebrities. Biden doesn't do well with free time, so when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a weird supposed accident, he ends up investigating - and Obama winds up pulled in too.

First, let me say: The plot here is solid. This would be a viable mystery novel even without the famous leads. I was a little hesitant about reading a novel told in Biden's voice, but Shaffer does a good job of it - his version of Biden is recognizable but also a character unto himself; this didn't feel icky to read as fiction about real people often does. Both this Biden and the book overall were very funny, as I'd expected, given that Shaffer is known as a humor writer.

But what I hadn't necessarily expected was that this book was genuinely moving, too. I laughed and cried, for real. Obviously part of that was due to our current political situation and nostalgia for the last administration, but that wasn't all. Biden's feelings about his place in the world and his worry over losing a friendship that's so important to him were well-drawn and relatable. He spends much of the book trying to distance himself in response to what he sees as Obama's distance, and I kept yelling GET BACK TOGETHER ALREADY, YOU LOVE EACH OTHER. (I wasn't QUITE yelling "MAKE OUT," but, you know, almost. It's not NOT also a romance novel, in a platonic soulmate sense.)

Oh. Did I mention there's a motel room with - *gasp* - only one bed?!?!

Hope Never Dies is out today. Go get it and escape our current hell for a few hours.

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